web analytics
July 28, 2014 2

Asheville: Liquid Truffle at French Broad Chocolate Lounge

By in Asheville, Austin, Desserts

Liquid Truffle

10 S Lexington Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 252-4181
http://frenchbroadchocolates.com

It is a life goal of mine to visit every single state in the US. There are rules. Airports layovers do not count. Straight drive throughs do not count. I have to experience something of note in each state. It has been a slow endeavor of mine but in the last seven months I have knocked off seven states, bringing me officially to the halfway mark!

A couple of weeks ago I flew into Charlotte, North Carolina and immediately drove into South Carolina to spend the night and see a 1,400 year old oak tree. Then I drove back up to North Carolina to attend a wedding. Woke up the next day and drove three hours into Virginia to see a sight and then another four hours to visit Asheville, North Carolina. I could have technically been done with North Carolina with just the wedding but I’ve had my sights on seeing the Biltmore for ages. You can read more about my experience of Biltmore on my personal blog.

I kept hearing about French Broad Chocolate Lounge when I was in Asheville. The line was out the door when I arrived but I’m not one to balk at long lines. (Thanks for the conditioning Hopdoddy, Ramen Tatsuya, and Franklin!) I had just finished eating a big meal but thought I could make room to taste at least one thing. I asked one of the servers what would they recommend to someone who has never been there and might possibly never be back. Without blinking he said the liquid truffle, which I then learned is what they call their drinking chocolate.

Now, I’ve had plenty of drinking chocolates and have had a long time favorite in Houston’s Chocolate Bar. It was such a convenience to have my best cup of drinking chocolate just a three hour drive away from me. I’m so sad to say my best cup experienced is now 1,150 miles or a 17 hour drive away. Damn.

It was smooth, rich, thick, and I had mine flavored with a hint of honey and lavender.

I had already fallen in love with Asheville by the time I drank this decadent cup of chocolate. I smiled to myself as I remembered my opening line to the server. “What do you recommend to someone who hasn’t been here and might never come back?”

I guess the joke is on me.

Move over Chocolate Bar in Houston, French Broad Chocolate Lounge is the new purveyor of the best hot chocolate of my life.

Tags: , , ,

July 20, 2014 0

Easy Ice Cream Cake

By in Desserts

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

I was just going through my photos and found this photo of an ice cream cake I made for a going away dinner I hosted last week. I forgot to take a photo of the cake before we all dug in with multiple slices each, but this aftermath of a cake still conveys the original essence. I know. It sounds like I’m talking out my bum when I suggest that this cake has essence. Its essence is joy, ease, childhood nostalgia, and celebration. Do you see it now?

ice cream cake

I found the easy recipe for this ice cream cake on Beautiful Mess.

I lined a square baking pan with wax paper for easy transfer. I then lined the bottom with ice cream sandwiches. (For the whole cake, I used 10 ice cream sandwiches). I cut a couple of sandwiches to fit the pan. Then quickly added a layer of ice cream. I chose my current favorite store bought flavor, HEB Creamy Creations, Candy Bar Classic, which ended up being a great complement because the nuts added a salty component to the otherwise very sweet cake. Then I added another layer of ice cream sandwiches on top. I covered the pan and placed it in the freezer as I worked on my top layer.

For the top layer, I melted chocolate and crushed Birthday Oreos. When the topping was prepped, I pulled out the ice cream cake and spread the melted chocolate on top and sprinkled with sprinkles and Oreo crumbs. I covered the cake again and put it in the freezer to set.

I made this the night before dinner and it was one less thing I had to worry about the night of the dinner. The cake was easy to remove from the pan and presented well on white serving plate. It’s just a shame we were too excited to dig into the cake to snap that before photo.

My roommate and I gleefully ate the left overs the next day. I’ll definitely be making this again!

Tags:

July 9, 2014 0

Dallas: Monkey King Noodle Company

By in Asian, Dallas

3014 Main St
Dallas, TX 75226
(469) 206-3658
http://www.monkeykingnoodlecompany.com/

My visit to Monkey King Noodle Company has been way overdue. I have the pleasure of being college friends with two of the three owners, Andrew Chen and Michael Wang. Michael Wang and I were close friends throughout college and had twice weekly noodle lunch dates! I have had the pleasure of seeing him mature and grow the last twelve years. He has seen me through the toughest times of my life and now that we’re in different corners of the country, I still find myself beaming with pride. Michael, Andrew, and the third owner of MKNC, Michelle Midyette opened Monkey King Noodle Company in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas in September of last year.

Coincidentally, one of my best friends, Treavor moved to Deep Ellum from Seattle in February. Not knowing that I’ve already been following MKNC, he recently sent me an article about MKNC as a gentle reminder that I still needed to visit him in Dallas. He also posted this photo of beautiful sunflowers located close to Dallas. So that was the final push. I made a one day trip to Dallas to romp around in sunflower fields and to eat at MKNC. It was the perfect Saturday. Spending the morning gazing at sunflowers bigger than our faces, and then in the evening on a rooftop patio slurping hand pulled noodles with people I love. Oh yeah, the noodles are hand pulled. You can watch in wonder through a window.


Andrew pulling noodles.

I ordered the spicy beef noodle soup ($8) and it was the best spicy beef noodle soup I’ve had! I’ve also sampled my friends’ Dandan Noodles ($8) and chicken noodle soup ($8). The Dandan noodles were my favorite of the three. It has mild sweet and spicy undertones that really tantalizes. Anita’s chicken noodle soup had a very clean feel to it and the chicken was amazingly tender. We also shared steamed pork dumplings ($7) and soup dumplings ($8). We were all happy campers. We ended this Saturday with a night out dancing. Another perfect summer night to go down in the books.

Monkey King Noodle Company
Monkey King Noodle Company

Monkey King Noodle Company

mknc-4

Monkey King Noodle Company

Monkey King Noodle Company


With one of the owners, Andrew Chen

Tags: , ,

June 24, 2014 0

Houston: Carbonara at Coppa Osteria

By in Houston, Italian

Coppa Osteria

5210 Morningside
Houston, TX 77005
(713) 522-3535
http://coppaosteriahouston.com

A couple of weekends ago, my friends met for brunch at Taverna after cheering for me as I rappelled my way down The W Hotel Austin. I sat with them for a mere ten minutes because I had to run off to make a rendezvous point for a surprise party. Ten minutes was just long enough to order a side of roasted potatoes I didn’t have time to eat and to steal two bites of my friend’s carbonara. Guys, two bites of carbonara was not enough. I’ve been craving it ever since and almost squealed when I spotted it on the menu at Coppa Osteria this past weekend in Houston.

There are certain dishes I’m always drawn to when I spy them on a menu. Bread puddings, chocolate soufflés, arugula proscuitto pizzas, and carbonaras are all such dishes. In all my carbonara eating days, I’ve never had the server pour the cream and mix my pasta for me. I barely had enough time to steal this shot as the server poured on the decadent parmesan cream. Part of the joy of eating carbonara is breaking the egg yolk and gently folding it into your noodles. You won’t get that joy at Coppa Osteria as the server will perform that task for you. However, you may quickly forgive the trespass once you tuck into the pasta.

Carbonara

spaghetti carbonara: black pepper, parsley, salumi toscano, egg yolk, parmesan cream; $19

Carbonaras aren’t exactly diet friendly but that’s part of the joy of a great carbonara, the sense of sinful indulgence. Don’t tell anyone but I had my best friend play lookout as I licked the buttery creamy sauce from my spoon.


Question: What’s something you have to order if you spy it on a menu?

Tags: , , , ,

June 13, 2014 2

Fire Salmon at Soto

By in Asian, Austin

Soto
11066 Pecan Park Blvd
Ste 402
Cedar Park, TX 78613
(512) 257-0788
http://sotoaustin.com

What’s refreshing about dining with fellow food bloggers is that we all take photos of our food and there’s a mutual disregard for dining decorum. Actually, it’s a point of connection as we all try to accommodate each other’s shots. “I’m sorry, am I casting a shadow on your shot?” is a question that is often asked to dinner company when dining with food bloggers. My loved ones who aren’t food bloggers understand that I love snapping photos of my food and they patiently wait and I in turn try to grab that shot as fast as I can. Most of the time I don’t even blog the food photos! (You can always find them on my Instagram.)

I restrain myself when I’m dining with new friends who aren’t keen to what it’s like to eat with food bloggers. I keep my phone in my purse and don’t even pack the DSLR. I admire the beauty of the plating and at most I might discretely and forlornly sigh at a lost opportunity. I was at such a dinner at Soto a few nights ago. Soto’s signature off the menu dish is the Fire Salmon and I breached my conduct code. I apologized to my dinner companion and said, “I’m really sorry. This is too gorgeous not to take a quick phone photo.”

But really, look at it.

Fire Salmon

Salmon sprinkled with edible flower petals, draped on lemon grass, and seared over 151 and coffee beans. I had to steal a photo.

Tags: , , , ,

June 10, 2014 2

Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza and Pedernales Falls State Park

By in American, Austin

Stanley's Farmhouse Pizza

13187 Fitzhugh Rd
Austin, TX 78736
(512) 900-9079
http://stanleysfarmhousepizza.com

Summer has begun and every year I get nostalgic for my school days where I actually had long lazy stretches of vacation from school.  Now a working adult with limited paid time off, I make due with my weekends. A great way to indulge in Texas summers is to take day trips. Last Saturday, Anita, Ashley, my dog Bob, and I drove an hour and a half to Pedernales Falls State Park to hike and be outside. We had one of those days that felt deliciously idyllic. We hiked and snacked and enjoyed the sights of the state park (8 dollars per person), and then had lunch close by at Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza, which is conveniently adjacent to Jester King Brewery.  We gobbled up two pizzas between us three girls and enjoyed Jester King’s unique sour beers while people watching.

Beer, pizza, and a good sweaty hike among the wildflowers? Doesn’t that sound like a perfect summer afternoon in Texas?

Stanley's Farmhouse Pizza

It’s such a treat when you can see restaurants make your food right in front of you.

 

Stanley's Farmhouse Pizza

 

We ordered the Dexter (red sauce, New Jersey Pepperoni, Italian sausage, fresh mozzarella, caramelized onions, Calabria Chilies; $14.50) and the Penelope (red sauce, smoked speck, fresh mozzarella, arugula, tomatoes, cracked salt & pepper, extra-virgin olive oil; $13.75). The meaty spicy tones of the Dexter complemented the light and fresh toppings of the Penelope well. We ate it all and admittedly there were a few burps.

What? Beers and pizza would do that to anyone!

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park

We drove home after we had our fill of basking in the sun over our beers, all took naps, and then met up again to enjoy Austin’s live music scene. I will always cherish full summer days like these.

Tags: , ,

May 19, 2014 6

Ingredients of a Seven Hour Brunch

By in American, Cooking, Girl Links World

Brunch

Over half a year ago, after months of painful deliberating, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend and moved out of our home. It was hard but with each passing day I became more confident about my decision. I also rediscovered many pleasures in the last half-year. I no longer have to hear ESPN as white noise in my new home. I only have myself to feed; some nights, I’m eating a bowl of cereal in front of Netflix. Admittedly, it’s also a lot of eating out. As much as I love the new abundance of leisure time that freed up now that I’m no longer cooking 3-5 times a week, I do miss cooking. I don’t just miss cooking, but specifically I miss cooking for someone I love. Cooking is my favorite way to express love. I’m not motivated to try out new recipes and plate food when I’m cooking for one.

I stumbled on a brunch recipe for savory french toast casserole and knew I had to make it. To motivate me further, I invited four of my closest girlfriends in town. It ended up being a lovely brunch that lasted seven hours. The spread was a photogenic spread but 7 hours later it was a happy disaster of donut crumbs and crafting supplies (Anita brought supplies for us to make flower crowns). We pulled out what little of the french toast casserole was left at hour six and all ate from the same plate. Also, there were eighteen big donuts and we demolished those too.

Here are the ingredients for our 7 hour happy brunch:

 

Brunch

Savory French Toast
Apples and Brown Sugar

 

Pigs in a Blanket

 

Bob the Dog

Tags: , , , , ,

May 14, 2014 0

Bridlewood Estate Winery and Odd Duck

By in American, Austin

Odd Duck

 

Odd Duck
1201 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 433-6521
oddduckaustin.com

Bridlewood Estate Winery, based in California,  invited me to  a wine pairing at Odd Duck last month.  I’ve always had delicious tastings with Californian wines and had a scrumptious 17 course dinner at Odd Duck’s new brick and mortar back in January.  In short, the invitation promised a palatable evening. Chef Bryce Gilmore and his team designed an original menu to pair with Bridlewood Paso Robles Rose, Bridlewood Monterey County Chardonnay, Bridlewood Monterey County Pinot Noir, and Bridlewood Sta. Rita Hills Reserve Pinot Noir. The pairings were intoxicating and well orchestrated. Every bite and every sip.

Odd Duck

Crab, cornmeal pancake, grapefruit. Paired with Bridlewood Paso Robles Rose 2012.

Odd Duck

Lardo, rice cracker, radish.  Paired with Bridlewood Paso Robles Rose 2012.

Odd Duck

Wine Maker Mark Williams gives us the inside scoop on Bridlewood Estates Winery in between courses.

Odd Duck

Royal red shrimp, celery, hazelnuts, lemon verbena. Paired with Bridlewood Monterey County Chardonnay 2012.

Odd Duck

Mole, masa roasted beets, charred olive, soured cream. Paired with Bridlewood Sta. Rita Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2012

Odd Duck

Cavatelli, heirloom chicken, tarragon, pistachio, strawberries. Paired with Bridlewood Monterey County Pinot Noir 2012.

Odd Duck

Grilled venison loin, sweet potato, vanilla, juniper, morels. Paired with Bridlewood Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.

 

Odd Duck

Strawberry tart, creme fraiche, almond, rhubarb. Paired with Bridlewood Central Coast Blend 175 2012.

Tags: , ,

April 30, 2014 0

Wordless Wednesday: Serious Brunch at Josephine House

By in American, Austin

1601 Waterson Ave
Austin, TX 78703
512) 477-5584
http://josephineofaustin.com

Recently I was talking to a new friend about her relationship. “He wants serious things and I want hanging out and happy hours.” I nod pensively as I tried to imagine what is more serious than happy hours and hanging out. I asked, “So he wanted – brunch?” She laughed and said, “no, marriage and kids.”

In my defense, brunch is serious business. And if you’re serious about brunch, may I recommend Josephine House? There you will find buttery pastries, delectable entrees, and romantic ambiance.

Josephine House

Josephine House

Josephine House

Josephine House

Josephine House

Tags: , , , ,

March 12, 2014 0

Los Angeles: Bottega Louie’s Macarons

By in American, Desserts, French, Italian, Los Angeles, Paris

700 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 802-1470
http://bottegalouie.com

Truth be told, I wasn’t always a fan of macarons. Last year I fell in love with Paris and now eating macarons is a delightful reminder of my visit to Paris. I was all too happy to take home a box of Bottega Louie’s macarons last weekend. I was in Los Angeles for just enough time to grab dinner at Bottega Louie on Sunday night and visit the Griffith Observatory the next morning. I picked my favorite flavors and every bite was exquisite. Chocolate orange, espresso, pistacho, Earl Grey, and rose. Loved the gold dust on the pretty blue Earl Grey.

The good news is you don’t have to book a flight to LA to enjoy their treats. They sell their macarons online.



Tags: , , , ,